Imogen Welch


My practice is typically one of recycling, re-presenting and transformation. The obsessive metamorphosis of real world objects, by the addition of materials or substances, makes the ordinary 'uncanny', and takes the familiar into new territory. Using techniques more commonly found in craft (including collage, frottage, mosaic, gilding and upholstery) my art also references 'women's work' and folk art. My influences from within the art world include Meret Oppenheim, Kurt Schwitters and Andy Warhol.

Preoccupations have often reflected my past life and can have autobiographical elements, for instance muffling a full-size replica of my teenage bedroom in blue felt. Other pieces recall my time working in computing, with themes such as business, office life and technology. Much recent has dealt with issues including globalisation, quantitative easing and hyperinflation. Both my involvement with Frogmore Mill and Watford Recycling Arts Project have led to a fascination with manufacturing, transport and recycling.

Pallets and containers in my work represent the huge volumes of international trade, and gold stands for its value. The Chinese Dream (referring to an aspiration to dominate world trade) is a stack of humble pallets. The ‘lucky’ sixth one is gilded with pure gold leaf from China – transforming it into a ‘precious’ but useless object. The introduction of some ‘commercial techniques’ to my work served to highlight themes. This is exemplified in The American Dream, where instead of the gold being laboriously hand applied, I commissioned a company to custom spray the Cozy Coupe to take on a Jeff Koons look. This familiar toy, probably the world's best-selling car, is unusually made entirely in the USA raising current political issues on trade and jobs.

I have been collecting rubbish on Southend beaches twice a month for a year. It turned out that most of the effort went into washing the finds. This was closer than I had thought to my previous practice of obsessively covering junk to transform the unwanted into art. The initial art outcomes are documentary films and images of the finds using photographs and scans. The digital prints were created to remind the viewer of scientific microscope images of plankton and minerals.